Context: The federal and state-level Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) programs are vested with the responsibility for planning and developing systems of care for children with special health care needs. To support achievement of this goal, the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), in partnership with the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), has developed a new survey that will provide uniform national and state data on the prevalence and impact of special health care needs among children.
Purpose: The National Survey of CSHCN is designed to produce reliable state- and national-level estimates of the prevalence of special health care needs using MCHB's definition of CSHCN. It will also provide baseline estimates for federal and state Title V Maternal and Child Health performance measures, for Healthy People 2010 national prevention objectives, and for each state's Title V needs assessment. In addition, it will provide a resource for researchers, advocacy groups, and other interested parties. It is anticipated that this survey will be repeated periodically, thereby making trend analysis possible.
Methods: This survey is being conducted using the State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey mechanism, which shares the random-digit-dial sampling frame of the National Immunization Survey (sponsored by the National Immunization Program and NCHS). Using the CSHCN Screener, developed under the auspices of the Foundation for Accountability, 750 children with special health care needs will be identified and selected from each state and from the District of Columbia. Parents or guardians of these children then complete a comprehensive battery of questions on demographics, health and functional status, health insurance coverage, adequacy of health insurance coverage, public program participation, access to care, utilization of health care services, care coordination, satisfaction with care, and the impact of the special need on the family. Data collection began in October 2000 and will continue through March 2002. Summary reports and electronic data files will be available to the public within 6 to 12 months following completion of data collection.
Conclusions: The National Survey of CSHCN will offer a unique data source for individuals and organizations interested in understanding and improving service delivery for CSHCN. It is an accomplishment that reflects the contributions of state and federal Title V programs, family organizations, provider organizations, health services researchers, and the broader maternal and child health community.